Crabapple Jelly

It’s apple season on Prince Edward Island and orchards are filled with trees bearing wonderful apples of so many varieties.  There’s nothing like heading to a U-pick orchard to pick your own apples.  I always pick several pecks each fall — in fact, sometimes it’s easy to get carried away and pick too many!  However, they do get processed into pies, crisps, sauces, and jellies.  Apples are very versatile!

Crab Apple Jelly
Crabapple Jelly

For apple jelly lovers, now is the time to make that rich red crabapple jelly that is so flavorful.  The apples I used in the recipe I am sharing today came from Arlington Orchards in Arlington, west of Summerside, PEI.  I knew by the color of them that they would make a good crabapple jelly and I was not disappointed.  They are the Dolgo Crabapple variety.

Crab Apples
Crabapples

Now, crabapple jelly is not particularly difficult to make but it is a lengthy process and does take a bit of skill and know-how to get it cooked to the correct jelly state.

First, you have to wash and cut off the stem and blossom ends of the tiny crabapples.  Then, they have to be cooked to the “mushy” stage.   I take a potato masher and mash down any remaining chunks of apple after cooking as I find this helps the mixture to drip better once it is in the jelly bag.  The “mush” (pulp) gets bundled into a cheesecloth bag, tied, and hung over a bowl or pot to catch the juice dripping from the cooked apples.    I use a double weight of cheesecloth because I don’t want any apple seeds or pieces of apple peel coming through.  If the cheesecloth weave is very loose, I suggest using a triple layer. The objective is to have the juice as clear as possible so it does not make a cloudy jelly.  The aim is to have a transparent crabapple jelly.

Clear, transparent jelly
Clear, transparent jelly

The time-consuming process is waiting for the juice to slowly drip from the pulp in the jelly bag– it takes several hours and I usually leave it overnight.  The bag has to get suspended to allow the juice to slowly drip out.  I concoct a really “sophisticated” outfit for this — I simply hang the jelly bag on to a broom handle and suspend the broom between two chairs with a bowl or pot placed under the bag to catch the juice.  Really high tech, don’t you think!  Nevertheless, it works and gets the job done. The big tip I have here is resist the temptation to squeeze the jelly bag to hasten the juice flow or to extract more juice from the pulp.  This can cause some of the bits of the pulp to make their way through the cheesecloth and into the juice and this can very likely cause a cloudy jelly.

Once it’s apparent that there is no more juice dripping, discard the contents of the jelly bag. Measure and pour the extracted juice into a stock pot.  Add the sugar and lemon juice and start the cooking process.  I add sugar at the ratio of 3/4 cup sugar to 1 cup extracted apple juice.  Place 2-3 saucers in the freezer — these will be used to test the jelly’s state of “jelling”.  Once a small sample of the jelly is put on a cold saucer, placed in the freezer for a minute, removed, and starts to “wrinkle” when pushed gently with a finger, it has reached the jelly stage and is ready for bottling and processing in a hot water bath.

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Crabapple Jelly

Ingredients:

4 lbs crabapples
7 cups water

Granulated sugar (see Method below for amount)
3-4 tbsp strained fresh lemon juice
1 tsp butter

Method:

Wash apples.

Remove stem and blossom ends from apples.

Leave apples whole. Place in large stock pot.

Add the water.

Cook, covered, for approximately 40-45 minutes or until apples have softened and begun to break down into mush.

Gently mash any large chunks of apple with a potato masher.

Place a double, or triple, weight of cheesecloth in a large colander.

Place the colander over a large pot.  Pour the apple pulp into the cheesecloth-lined colander.

Let mixture drip for about 20 minutes or so to get some of the initial juice out of the pulp.

Gather up the ends of cheesecloth and tie tightly with an all-purpose kitchen twine or heavy string, making a loop by which to hang the jelly bag to allow the juice to drip out.

Hang the jelly bag on a broom handle and support the broom between two chairs. Place a large pot or bowl under the jelly bag to catch the juice as it drips.

Allow this to drip on its own for several hours (i.e., at least 3-4) or overnight, until no more juice is seen dripping through. Resist the urge to squeeze the jelly bag to hasten the juice flow, or to extract more juice from the pulp, as this can cause some of the apple pulp to escape the bag resulting in a cloudy juice and jelly.

Place 2-3 saucers in the freezer. You will need these to test the jelly for “jelling” status.

Fill a large pot of water, about three-quarters full.  Place six half-pint jars, upright, into the water.  Ensure the jars are fully submerged, each jar filled with water, and that the water is at least an inch over the tops of the jars.  Cover, bring to a boil, and boil for 10 minutes. Turn off heat and leave the jars in the hot water while the jelly is cooking.

Fill the hot water canner about one-third to one-half full of water. Cover and bring to a boil to have it ready for the filled jars.

When jelly bag is done dripping, discard bag and apple pulp. To determine the amount of sugar needed, measure out the extracted juice and add ¾ cup of sugar for each cup of juice.

Pour juice into pot.

Add the lemon juice and sugar to the extracted apple juice.

Stir to dissolve sugar.

Add 1 tsp butter to reduce foaming.

Bring mixture to a rolling boil.

Continue to boil over medium high heat for about 20 minutes or so, stirring occasionally, then test for status of jelling.

To test for jelling, remove one of the saucers from the freezer and place a couple of teaspoons of the jelly on it. Place the jelly in the freezer for one minute. Remove it from the freezer and push the jelly gently with a finger. If it wrinkles, it is done.

If it doesn’t wrinkle, keep cooking the jelly, testing every 4-5 minutes until it is done. Do not overcook. Remove jelly pot from stove while conducting jelling tests.

Skim off any foam that may still remain on top of the jelly.  Bottle hot jelly into sterilized jars, using a wide-mouthed canning funnel, and leaving between ¼” – ½” headroom in each jar. Wipe rims with clean damp cloth.

Heat jar lids and immediately place over hot filled jars. Finger tighten a metal rim band onto each jar.  Process in hot water bath. Allow jelly jars to sit at room temperature for several hours to set then store in cold room out of light.

Yield: 5½ – 6 cups

Crab Apple Jelly on Fresh Biscuits
Crabapple Jelly on Fresh Biscuits

Crabapple Jelly

This stunningly beautiful transparent crabapple jelly is made without pectin. Perfect accompaniment to toast, biscuits, and scones.
Author My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 4 lbs crabapples
  • 7 cups water
  • Granulated sugar see Method below for amount of sugar required
  • 3-4 tbsp strained fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp butter

Instructions

  1. Wash and remove stem and blossom ends from apples. Leave apples whole. Place in large stock pot. Add the water, cover, and bring to a boil then reduce heat to low and simmer for approximately 40-45 minutes or until apples have softened and begun to break down into mush. Gently mash any large chunks of apple with a potato masher.
  2. Place a double weight of dampened cheesecloth in a large colander (use triple weight of cheesecloth is very loose weave). Place the colander over a large clean pot. Pour the apple pulp into the cheesecloth-lined colander. Let mixture drip for about 20 minutes or so to get some of the initial juice out of the pulp. Gather up ends of cheesecloth and tie tightly with an all-purpose kitchen twine or heavy string, making a loop by which to hang the jelly bag to allow the juice to drip out.
  3. The jelly bag with the apple pulp will be heavy so will need something strong from which to suspend it to drip. It is recommended to hang the jelly bag on a broom handle and support the broom between two chairs. Place a large pot or bowl under the jelly bag to catch the juice as it drips. Allow this to drip on its own for several hours (i.e., at least 3-4 hours) or overnight, until no more juice is seen dripping through. Resist the urge to squeeze the jelly bag to hasten the juice flow, or extract more juice, as this can cause some of the apple pulp to escape the bag resulting in a cloudy juice and jelly.
  4. Place 2-3 saucers in the freezer. These will be needed to test the jelly for “jell” status.
  5. Fill a large pot of water, about three-quarters full. Place six half-pint jars, upright, into the water. Ensure the jars are fully submerged, each jar filled with water, and that the water is at least an inch over the tops of the jars. Cover, bring to a boil, and boil for 10 minutes. Turn off heat and leave the jars in the hot water while the jelly is cooking.
  6. Fill the hot water canner about one-third to one-half full of water. Cover and bring to a boil to have it ready for the filled jars.
  7. When jelly bag is done dripping, discard bag and apple pulp. To determine the amount of sugar needed, measure out the extracted juice and, for each cup of juice, measure out ¾ cup of sugar. Pour juice into pot. Add the lemon juice and sugar to the extracted apple juice. Stir to dissolve sugar. Add 1 tsp butter to reduce foaming. Over medium-high heat, bring mixture to a rolling boil and continue to boil, uncovered, at this temperature for about 20 minutes or so, stirring occasionally, then test for status of jelling.
  8. To test for jelling, remove one of the saucers from the freezer and place a couple of teaspoons of the jelly on it. Place the jelly in the freezer for one minute. Remove it from the freezer and push the jelly gently with a finger. If it wrinkles, it is done. If it doesn’t wrinkle, keep cooking the jelly, testing every 4-5 minutes until it is done. Do not overcook. Remove jelly pot from the stove while conducting the tests.
  9. Skim off any foam that may still remain on top of the jelly. Using a wide-mouthed canning funnel, bottle jelly hot into sterilized jars, leaving between ¼” – ½” headroom at the top of each jar. Wipe the jar rims with a clean cloth. Heat jar lids and immediately place over the hot filled jars. Fingertip tighten a metal jar band onto each jar.
  10. Place jars in hot water bath wire basket, ensuring jars do not touch each other or fall over. Carefully lower basket into canner of hot water. Ensure the water level is at least 1” above the tops of jars, adding more boiling water as necessary. Cover with canner lid. Increase the heat to return the water to a rolling boil then decrease the heat to just keep the water at a rolling boil but not boiling over. Process half-pint jars in the hot water bath for 10 minutes, adjusting time for altitude. Start timing the processing from the point where a full rolling boil is reached after basket of jars has been added to the canner. At the end of the processing time, turn off heat and remove canner lid. Using a jar lifter, carefully remove the jars, one at a time, and transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely. Listen for the “pop” or “ping” sound as the bottles seal over the next few minutes or hours. The lids of properly sealed jars will curve downward. Let jars rest, undisturbed, on wire rack for 12 hours. Store in cool, dark place. Refrigerate jelly once opened.

Recipe Notes

Yield: 5½ - 6 cups

 

For more great jam, jelly, and maramalade recipes from My Island Bistro Kitchen, click on the links below:

Peach Marmalade
Rhubarb Marmalade
Green Tomato Marmalade
Blueberry and Grand Marnier Jam
Gooseberry Jam
Zucchini Jam
Pumpkin Jam 

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Jelly

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